NBA Draft 2011: Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, Who Will Be the Better Pro?
There is literally no way to answer this question unless you have a crystal ball or can predict the future, but looking at some past stats and scouting reports, there is a method to the madness of evaluating college talent for the next level.
While both players could eventually turn into draft busts, the likelihood of Irving and Walker turning into All-Star’s is much great and that’s why this simple question is so tough to answer.
Of course there will be biases depending on your location, loyalty and knowledge of the NBA, but with all biases aside, let’s examine who could potential be the better professional ball player between Duke’s Kyrie Irving and UConn’s Kemba Walker.
Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker were both the point guards for their respective teams. While Irving had less playing time and a smaller sample size due to injury, he still posted a 17.5-point per game margin while Walker one-upped him by posting over 23 points per game.
Irving is considered one of only a few “true” point guards from the 2011 NBA draft class and put up solid numbers at Duke going 50 percent from the field and over 90 percent from the foul line.
While Walker had the ball in his hands more, he also shot more going over 42 percent from the field and a little under 82 percent from the foul line.
Despite Irving’s 11 game samples size, he did display solid athleticism but not exactly to the level of an elite NBA player, while Walker showed great range on his pull-up jumper from anywhere on the floor like we saw in UConn’s last minute win over Pitt.
While both players showed enough to become decent NBA players, Kemba’s flashy attitude around the rim the ability to spot-up from nearly anywhere on the floor should keep NBA teams interested in looking for their PG of the future.
Edge: Kemba Walker
One of the most important jobs for a point guard is their ability to feed an open teammate and create a scoring opportunity off the pass.
Kemba Walker displayed time and time again why he is an elite guard by being slick with the ball in his hands and knowing when to dish it at all times.
Irving was also his team’s facilitator and even though they didn’t need any more help to get better, Duke seemed to click the best when Irving was passing his teammates the ball.
While Walker is an above average passer, scouts seem to believe if only he passed it a little bit more his game would be better all around.
Walker knows when to hit an open man, but sometimes he needs to know when to kick it out to take the pressure off his shot.
With his great court vision and even better passing skills, Irving cemented himself as one of the better passing guards to come out of the 2011 draft class.
Edge: Kyrie Irving
While I didn’t want to use Kyrie Irving’s 11-game sample size to the advantage of Kemba Walker, it certainly has a lot to do with the skewed stats for each player during the 2010 season.
While Irving shot better than Kemba going over 46 percent from behind the arc, Kemba also tossed up 188 more three-pointers in 2010 bringing his percentage to and even 33 percent.
Stats aside, Irving displays the innate ability to find his stroke from the three point land using his great form and even better consistency from behind the arc.
The only knock on Irving is, again, his 11 game sample size and the questions surrounding his consistency and lack of experience at the college level.
Kemba on the other hand has one of the sweetest strokes I’ve ever seen.
He can light up the scoreboard by heaving threes with his constant and fluid motion and while he also lacks some consistency, that’s nothing a NBA coach can’t work on with him.
Edge: Kemba Walker
Both guards are known for their offensive game, but when it’s crunch time, a coach wants to know that every player on the floor can lock down the man they’re defending.
Both Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker are excellent defenders, but one certainly has to out-shine the other.
Kemba is a play-in-your-face type of athlete who, while flashy, can get the job done using his speed to keep the player he’s defending in front of him.
Irving is a fundamental defender that gets low and uses his great wingspan and big hands to stay close and block the passing lane.
While both players possess above average defending qualities, they both can use some consistency on the defensive end.
Irving stands at 6’2”, 180-pounds, while Walker is 6’0”, 172-pounds on a good day.
While Kemba is fast and does use it to his advantage, the taller, more athletic-looking Irving will be best suited to guard opponents at the next level.
Edge: Kyrie Irving
Both guys have blazing speed. That’s obvious.
While Irving uses this burst to blow by defenders, Kemba uses his explosiveness and quick first step to change directions and play aggressively.
Even though Kemba is shorter than Irving, the experience of playing three years of college ball is his, while Irving only has 11 college games under his belt before deciding to head to the NBA.
Kemba is prone to the turnover and make a bad decision once in awhile, but that should steadily decline with more experience at the next level.
Irving on the other hand is a huge gamble for any team willing to draft him.
He lacks experience, missed a lot of time due to injury and may or may not be ready to make an impact immediately, while Kemba can make a difference in his first year.
And in case you don't remember, Kemba Walker is the National Champion out of these two.
Edge: Kemba Walker
Game, Set, Match: Kemba Walker